Myth: Social media turns kids into cyberbullies.
Truth: There are many reasons a kid might cyberbully, and social media is just a convenient way to do the dirty work.
Myth: Teaching kids not to talk to strangers is the best way to keep them safe online.
Truth: Teaching kids to recognize predatory behavior will help them avoid unwelcome advances.
Myth: Social media alienates kids.
Most kids want to have fun, hang out and socialize normally online — and, in fact, according to our research, that’s what the majority are doing. Check out these comforting stats:
- Most teens say social media has a positive effect on them.
- Social media is an important avenue of creative expression.
- The quality of kids' online relationships has a big impact on their well-being.
And how about the kids who’ve fought cyberbullying and used the Internet for a social cause like Greta Thunberg? More and more, kids are harnessing the power of the online world — and busting up a few myths along the way.
Myth: It’s dangerous to post pictures of your kids online.
Truth: If you use privacy settings, limit your audience and don’t ID your kids, it can be done fairly safely.
Although it’s true that posting anything online invites some risks, there are ways to limit them if you’re smart about how you do it.
- Use privacy settings. Make sure your privacy settings are set so only the closest people in your network can view your posts.
- Limit your audience. Share posts only with close family and friends. Or use photo-sharing sites such as Google Photos that require a log-in.
- Don’t rush your kids into social media. Obey the rules about keeping kids under 13 off social media. Once your kids have an online profile, they can be tagged in photos, which magnifies their online presence. If you’re going to upload photos of them, don’t identify them and don’t tag them.
Myth: Parental controls are the best way to monitor my kids’ online activities.
Truth: Focusing on only one Internet safety method lulls you into a false sense of security.
To keep your kids safe online — and to raise them to be responsible, respectful digital citizens — it takes more than installing parental controls. For starters, parental controls can be defeated by determined kids. They also often catch too much in their filters, rendering any Internet search useless, and they set up a “parent vs. kid” dynamic that could backfire.
Caroline Knorr is Common Sense Media’s parenting editor. This piece first ran at CommonSensemedia.org.